You live in a community under a giant Dome. Your entire existence is circumscribed by the soft curve of those great grey walls. The city is lush but orderly, large but not sprawling, and it contains the remnants of the human race. Outside, you are told, is a hellish, irradiated wasteland full of mutant beasts and barely sentient cannibals. No one has even ventured outside the Dome in, oh, ten thousand years. It's a long-term thing, this Dome.
The most popular show on Domevision is called Outerlands. The show traces the story of a group of attractive people who must survive in the world outside the Dome. Currently they're battling against a cannibal encampment called Namerka. One of the actors on the show is a friend of yours from Early School. She tells you that the backgrounds and landscapes are all done on computer and that the show's producer keeps hitting on her, but it's still the best job in the world. Domevision is projected against the Dome and everyone watches it from the windows of their Dome-shaped houses.
When Job Selection day approaches, you hope that the Omnisort will pick you as a cast member on Outerlands. After all, you're different than everyone else - more sensitive, more articulate, more spiritual than your classmates. But you are chosen to work as a Scrubber, one of the lowly labourers assigned to scrubbing the service tunnels underneath the City.
And there you discover a way out. And because of your above mentioned differences, you decide to attempt it. As you engage the vacuum seal on the door, you realize that you may be the first person to see the outside in one hundred centuries.
Outside the Dome, precisely as you have been taught, lies a hellish, irradiated wasteland of mutant beasts and barely sentient cannibals. Desiccated vines cling to rocky outcrops in a parody of life. Pools of diseased water bubble and steam. The air tastes like exhaust.
This sucks, you think. You hurry back inside and never leave the Dome again. Your death years later in the works of the main intake rotor at Substation #5 is regrettable but pretty common.
In Same World, everything is the same as everything else. You're expected to wear the same clothes, eat the same food, say the same things and think the same thoughts as your fellow citizens. The Lords of Similarity emphasize constantly that this sameness is necessary to keeping society together. In fact, the Lords continue, if it weren't for the necessity of having the Lords around to enforce that sameness, they'd give up the title in a heartbeat and be just like everyone else. But as long as difference threatens to creep back in, they'll continue to be Lords and distinguish themselves by their title, their jumpsuits with the subtle gold piping, and their gigantic windowless skyscraper in the dead center of the city thrusting up into the clouds.
Helplessly, you have become a traitor to Similarity. You think different thoughts, feel different feelings and keep a small box of unusual found objects under your bed. These are treasures to you. Every night you remove the box from its hiding place and contemplate the little objects that you've found over the years - a pink beret, a cloudy blue jewel, a water-damaged paperback book written in an ancient language, and a postcard picture of a woman with a mysterious smile. People are instructed to submit such objects, usually found in The Ruins, to the Ministry of Similarity, whereupon the object will be destroyed and the citizen will be submitted to months of preventative re-education. But you love these objects for reasons that you cannot explain. You only know that they come from The Different Times.
One day you open your box and discover that one of the objects - the smiling woman postcard - is missing. Panicked, you surrender yourself to the Ministry of Similarity. During examination of the box, it is discovered that the postcard has slipped between the pages of the paperback. You are imprisoned, re-educated and released about a year later.
You attempt to return home, but all the houses look the same and it takes forever to find your place.
Municipal Park World
This isn't really a dystopia. You just happen to live in a municipal park. There are public washrooms and showers, a canteen, and even some playground equipment for you to get some exercise on. You have a small camo-patterned tent, which you've pitched in the bushes near the bike path. Best of all, a small petting zoo with a couple of goats and a pot-bellied pig provide you with entertainment and companionship. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, you're living there illegally, for one thing. Plus you frighten local children. It isn't long before a story in the local paper draws unwanted attention to you. Soon, people are coming to spot "The Wildman of Grosvenor Heights Rotary Park." You try to blend in with the crowds, but your grimy clothing and increasingly tangled beard mark you. A university student interviews you, and clips of the Wildman start appearing on YouTube. At some point somebody figures out that you used to be in a grunge band, and old concert footage and t-shirts surge in popularity.
After several months of sustained attention, the police attempt to evict you, but a number of Wildman supporters - many of whom have taken you as a sort of countercultural Occupy mascot - show up to protest. Opposing sides square off. A fight breaks out. You wander out of your tent, ripped all to shit on Gallo Red, and are accidentally shot. You bleed to death as cops and protesters fight over your right to live as you choose.
Later your corpse is discovered and a wave of anger breaks over the city. The police station is firebombed. City Hall is occupied. Property is seized.
It is the beginning of the Revolution.
The goats and pot-bellied pig escape their neglected enclosure and are never seen again.
"Do you want to see some snaps I took today?"
WHY DID YOU SAY SNAPS I HATE THAT WORD
"I was just taking snaps, is all. Just cazh."
THATS EVEN WORSE
"Cazh snaps, you know."
STOP IT STOP IT DIE NOW
HOW DO YOU EVEN SPELL CAZH
"I was just thinking that!"
*I will know when Schmutzie's read this post by the baffled looks and the inevitable questions about why I made her sound like an angry mainframe bent on exterminating all human life. It's because I love her, duh.
My new camera! It is here. After not many days at all of waiting (but after a great deal of deliberation about wants vs. needs, eating vs. starving and so on) I ordered a Fujifilm X100s . Ken Rockwell, that master of hyperbole and audience-directed sabre-rattling (seriously, the guy can't write three lines without flashing his cutlass), called it the world's best digital camera. While that's almost certainly not true, it's a hell of a machine. The rings and dials cry out to be fiddled with. The optical viewfinder features framing lines and parallax-corrected autofocus. My god, this thing has an actual optical viewfinder.
So far I've taken a lot of pictures of my cat?
Not so bad. They're certainly very clear pictures of a cat. The camera lacks an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) or anti-aliasing filter over the sensor, so fine details and textures become much more visible. More importantly, the fixed lens, a 35mm equivalent, performs extremely well. It won't give you paper-thin depth of field that produces super-sharp eyelashes and blurry eyeballs, but it has enough bokeh for my liking, and anyway, screw that stuff. Ultra-shallow DOF is purty and romantic and good for certain effects, but at this point it's little more than a marker of status (I have a notion that extremely shallow depth of field is so popular these days because it's one of the few obvious signs that the photographer owns a ridiculously expensive camera).
Now that I'm on the topic, here are a couple of examples of depth-of-field gone wrong:
These two shots may look artistic. What they really are is wrong (particulary the first one).
I would have vastly preferred to have both faces in focus, but I had some fast lenses that I paid good money for, so I was going to get that money's worth by shooting them as wide open as possible. I should have taken some time to select a different aperture and then adjust the shutter speed for a comparable exposure. You'll probably note that I've done some smoothing of detail on the top image, particularly around the subject's faces. This was my solution for minimizing the focal mismatch.
Don't get me wrong - I like both of these photos. I love the '70s-era look of Paul and Devin, and the curious reflection of their faces in the mirror. And the slight blurring of my brother's face serves to focus attention on my grandmother (Also, why are their shirts so similar? That was unexpected). But the depth of field wasn't really a creative choice on my part. The camera made a crucial decision that I should have made. In the second picture, it works. In the first, it was my job to photograph two subjects clearly, and I missed the shot.
So where was I? Right, the new camera. I've tried it out in a few environments, with results that have so far warmed my tiny wrinkly dark heart. According to the doctors my heart is actually a peach pit.
And here's some shallow depth of field, done with furious purpose. Maybe not furious, but you know.
The promise or potential of a new camera is trickier than the camera itself. Promise swirls around it, a sort of mist in which your febrile fantasies can be glimpsed. When I bought my Panasonic GH3 a year ago, I was excited about its potential as a video camera. What have I done with it for video? Not much. Not nearly as much as I imagined myself doing. A few projects half-started, a few more in limbo. Video requires a particular kind of patience that I don't have much of these days. It also requires a laptop that doesn't wheeze and grind and cough when I force it run a video editor.
The X100s, though, has a different sort of promise. With this camera, I can picture all the pictures I'm going to take with it. Which is all the pictures, all the time. This thing is purpose-built to turn passable photographers into good ones, and good ones into complete bores who drone on about the X100s all day long. And well they should.
UPDATE: A certain amount of kismet must be in the air, because I was just contacted today about ongoing freelance work. Universe, you're right on time with the firmware updates.
ALSO: For the gear-curious, the picture at the top of the post was taken with my Olympus OM-D EM-5, and the middle two with the Panasonic GH3.
So you're in a post of single-sentence paragraphs.
That's all you get.
Just one sentence per paragraph.
And that's okay.
Why is it okay?
Because this thing we're embarking on together?
It's a journey.
It's a journey that will take you wherever you need to go.
Because posts written like this tend to be inspirational.
And super fucking vague.
You won't come away unsatisfied from a post like this.
Because you won't even know what you've read.
But you will know this:
It was really easy to get through.
Maybe you'll go out and set up your own blog now.
Or you'll boot up your long-dormant, near-dead, fish-flopping-with-gills-pulsing, blog.
And you'll write a post full of single-sentence paragraphs.
And somebody else will find your post.
And they'll follow suit.
And everyone will get rich.
You're rich already.
So you're in a ketchup factory.
At least you think it's a ketchup factory. Even through the burlap you can smell the concentrated reek of hot tomato pulp. Somewhere close by you can hear the noise of giant machines which are no doubt boiling down tomatoes and forming a kind of tomato-sugar slurry. Maybe the bottling is done here too. Who knows? You'd like to confirm your suspicions but you can't see a thing. It's dark in this factory that probably makes ketchup! But the heavy bag over your head makes it impossible to know for certain. This is how you make ketchup, friend. You never wanted to know how it happened but now it will be the last thing you ever know.
Kidding! This is just a mugging gone terribly wrong. We brought you to the ketchup factory because Carl has the keys and we don't know what else to do with you. Probably we could have just let you go, huh? Probably we still could, because you haven't seen our faces.
But you do know Carl's name. And you know that he works at the ketchup factory. How many ketchup factories do you think there are in the tri-county area? No, it wouldn't take long before you tracked down this place and found Carl at the industrial juicer and demanded your five bucks back. Because that's all you had in your pockets, buddy. Next time you should have more cash on you and then muggers wouldn't panic and kidnap you and take you to the ketchup factory. Just a suggestion.
So you're in a traffic jam (transportation, amirite?) and you want to know what do. This isn't surprising; even though traffic jams are endemic to modern urban and suburban and exurban and semi-rural and rural living, many motorists still aren't sure how to proceed when bumpers start nestling up against bumpers and hundreds of drivers slowly realize that they're not going to make it on time to work/home/their cousin's bat mitzvah party. Here are some handy tips.
Realize that it's not your fault. Unless you're at the head of the jam or you've blown up a bridge, this traffic jam you're in is not your responsibility. Traffic jams are hybrid beasts of metal and misery and farts, and you're the morsel being digested in its fancy leather interior.
Do not despair. Traffic jams shrink space and slow time until nothing exists but the interior of your car. Meanwhile, you go from wondering whether or not new car smell is carcinogenic to exactly how carcinogenic it might be. Eventually you forget your former life and turn into an organic element of your vehicle, an unfeeling brain with vestigial connections for manipulating the True Body of the machine. Try not to let that happen.
Do not get out of your car. What are you doing? Where are you going? You think there's something out there? There is nothing out there. We've built a world of interiors rudely interrupted by outside spaces. Don't play outside's game. Get back in your vehicle.
Play the latest video games. You're in for the duration, so make sure you've brought along your video game console, HDTV, 7.1 Surround Sound speakers, microwave popcorn, microwave oven, broadband Internet router (in the likely event that your system and game will need to download updates), beer cooler or mini-fridge stocked with energy drinks. And don't forget extension cords, which you can use to plug your various appliances into a nearby home or business. You're all set for gaming fun!
Work on your screenplay. Insert a scene where your protagonist is stuck in a traffic jam so he goes "HELL NO" and blows up a bunch of cars in front of him and when he drives through the wreckage he locks eyes with a group of stunned Japanese tourists and says "Traffic is a bitch" and I guess I just gave you my million-dollar Hollywood idea, didn't I?
Check the sidewalks. Are the sidewalks relatively empty? Are they wide? Sidewalks are the new roads, you know. Hint.
Just stay home. Don't even get out of bed. You're only going to end up stuck in a traffic jam.
Last Sunday on the Green Mile after the Riders victory. Schmutzie and I went out around 11:00 just as the public outpouring of good cheer and triumphalism was starting to dissipate. The solid crowds of 9:30 were starting to coagulate into little clumps of happy drunks who were more than happy to pose for me.
Damn but these people were in a good mood. I expected to find a dark undercurrent tugging against the incoming tide of joy, but people just seemed... happy. Even the guy in the Joker makeup seemed happy.
Oddly enough, I couldn't find a Rider Batman to go with the Rider Joker.
Hello curious people. These photos were taken in the damp night cold with my Lumix GH3 and stout 12mm 1.8 lens. I used my on-camera flash on to get a Weegee-esque look - a little lurid and forensic. Because I'm lazy I had the camera set to auto, which resulted in a weirdly slow shutter speed - hence the strange shadows and ghosts in some of these images. Next time I go out like this, I'm going to set my controls manually and get some crisper images. Not images of crispers, mind you. Unless there's some of kind of massive vegetable storage compartment celebration.
Hey folks! Pack your bags, because you’ve booked a flight... to Flavour Country!
Did you get your passport renewed? Because you’re on your way... to Flavour Country!
How about your visa? Flavour Country requires a visa for entry from approximately 70 countries! Make sure to apply at least 90 days before your departure date!
Don’t worry about the fact that you’re surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire and manned by armed guards… in Flavour Country! This is simply a precaution against rebels.
Stick with your guide when you leave the designated tourist areas (please refer to your guide books for approved Tasty Zone areas) when you’re in Flavour Country! Citizens of Flavour Country are the friendliest people in the world, but sometimes poverty and desperation can drive good people into committing terrible acts.
When in doubt remember this simple motto: Don’t do anything to get your organs harvested in Flavour Country!
Did you hear the story about the guy who took a photo of Flavour Country's Royal Guard and is still languishing in prison? Well you can meet him in person! Just take the wrong picture or talk to the wrong person or approach the Royal Palace... for any reason! Slowly forget your own name in a tiny cell underneath the Ministry of Finger Licking Goodness!
Endless blasted landscapes of raw earth and industrial tailings. Mile after mile a zone of death, the grim horizon unspooling a scorched and necrotic countryside like an ancient acetate print of Hell itself. And to your left you'll see Flavour Country!
Folks, this is your Captain speaking. We’ve begun our final descent into Flavour Country. Flight attendants. Flight attendants. Crosscheck please will you. Will you crosscheck please. Your Captain. The flavour is
All weddings should take place in late September. Magic hour is impatient to show up.
Let's trust nothing and go home early. Let's
take a plane to the planks and shave our house
into a nest. Let's sleep like hedgehogs.
Let's try that new move we learned on daytime television
and follow it all up with a smoothie.
Let's cry into our hands and say Look ma the ocean! , rip
off our outerwear and dive in, eyeballs be damned.
Let's Columbia House Record & Tape Club in 1986.
Let's Meat Is Murder for a penny and spend the years
drowning in cassettes. It's all verbs now anyway.
Hey look, I've been nominated for Best Prairie Dog Writer in the 2013 Best of Regina competition! This is very cool. Last year's Best of Regina came and went and I neglected to campaign for "my name in a picture frame," as they (actually nobody) say. I still won, but I felt like I didn't have an active role in the process. And I like to feel included.
Anyway! If you like my writing and think that my incredibly fragile ego needs a buttress or two to keep it from sinking into the foul marsh of my psyche (woah, how's that for a metaphor? Pretty slick, yes? See what I bring to the table? I hope buttresses work the way I think they do), I invite you to vote for me. I also want you to vote for fellow nominees Paul Dechene and Steve Whitworth, who both fill up the pages of prairie dog with excellent writing every other week. But in the end, there can be only one. So choose wisely. Um, hate leads to the dark side.
You have to register for an account to have your vote count, but it's a painless process. Go for it! Click here to vote.
I'm experimenting with Squarespace's galleries. Bear with me while this business gets sorted out. Click on the pictures below!
Outside the palace grounds, still there is Palinode. Oh well, what can you do.
3. DAMN, NOVA SCOTIA. A survey on marijuana use in Canada has come out, and it turns out that British Columbia is not the pottiest province around. That honour goes to Nova Scotia, where 14.8% of respondents to the Stats Canada survey affirmed that they had smoked the international healing herb within the last 12 months. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, this makes sense. BC came in second at 14.2%. Dead last? Good old productive Saskatchewan at 10.1%, where we just drink to forget.The first edition of my weekly news roundup on the Dog Blog! I've got my own artfully designed logo and everything (all thanks to my editor Steve Whitworth and graphic designer Paul Klassen).
I like avocados. Don’t you? They may look a bit like Jolly Green Giant droppings, but avocado flesh is soft, beautiful, delicious without tasting like much of anything, and the pits, if planted, grow into towering lambent shrubs that will lurk in your living room and follow you from home to home until one of you finally dies. What’s not to like?
Remarkably, Regina continues to produce restaurants for me to write about. Somewhere in this city, either in some gigantic basement or hollowed-out building, a factory generates diners, cafes, bars, coffee shops, pizzerias, bodegas and every other possible food-bearing structure. One day I'll hunt it down.
5. “Don’t believe the hype, buddy. Schopenhauer was a douchebag.”
4. “I’ve come from the future to get a select few in shape for the coming Cardiopocalypse.”
3. “You know, fifty years ago this neighbourhood was nothing but forest. Beech, alder, aspen - it was like a magical glade where, surely, fairies and forest spirits danced around sprouting gillyflowers, and they sipped breezes borne on the diaphanous wings of butterflies. But hey, they put up a T.G.I. Fridays on the corner last month! It’s a give and take situation.”
2. “I drink Axe body spray.”
1. “So if you do a bunch of crunches, squats, thrusts, lifts and lunges every day, you’ll have to come back and tell me what those words mean. I kind of stumbled into this job.”
One day in the park I met Miley Cyrus’ tongue. Tongue, I said, where’s your body? Tongue hopped up on the bench next to me. We have an understanding, Tongue said. Sometimes I feel like seeing the world and she just wants to be quiet for an afternoon. Do you ever get that feeling? Tongue seemed to be reaching out for understanding. I could relate, having often felt like a necessary but unregarded part of my own life. Also, Tongue continued, do you have a piece of pie I could sit on? This bench tastes like ass.
1. Is Elon Musk A Wizard or Something? He Has Magical Cheekbones
2. Five Best Fedoras for Your Next Job Interview
3. Our Bad, Folks: It Turns Out that the Term ‘Hedge Fund’ is Metaphorical
4. Our Exclusive August Interview with a Guy Who Told Us He Was Steve Jobs
5. Despite Congressional Stonewalling, Obama Still Committed to Attacking Alaska
6. Top Sweatpants
7. Editorial: The New iPhone Galaxy Dream 5 Is Just Three Smartphones Stuck Together with 5 Gum
8. Our Exclusive August Follow-up Interview with a Guy Who Told He Was Ashton Kutcher (UPDATE: It Was Ashton Kutcher!)
9. Miley Cyrus Detained for Questioning (“Only God Can Judge Us,” Claims Miley)
Vampire Diaries: A Wings Fan Fiction
One morning Joe Hackett came into work at Sandpiper Air and noticed that none of the charter flights were operating. Also, everything was covered in blood. People were scattered around the area in grotesque poses, propped up like hellish dolls or draped over the snack bar. Everyone looked pretty dead.
“What the hell,” said Joe.
“We opened up a new route to Mystic Falls Regional Airport,” said his brother Brian, who was looking suspiciously pale beneath the deep coppery smelling smears of blood that seemed to cover his skin like ancient scales. Twin candles of eldritch light flickered palely from the caverns of his eyes. “It’s a regular route, but we effectively opened a portal from Sandpiper Air to the gates of Hell.”
A mild laugh percolated through the departure lounge.
“Must be, what, full of vampires?” said Joe.
“Just chock-a-block with them,” Brian confirmed. He raked his fingers through his hair until some of the dried blood flaked away. “Anyway I’m a vampire too now and I’ve got to pilot a flight to Boston. Do I look good to go? I’ve got a hot date tonight with a girl from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She’s a flautist, Joe.”
He gave his brother a playful nudge on the shoulder. Robust laughter sounded.
“I told you there were vampires in Massachussetts,” said Antonio, walking in from the left. Applause and cheers filled the air.
Joe rubbed his eyes. “Okay,” he said, “I have fucking had it with the mysterious laughter. Who in the ever-living fuck is doin
10. metonymic thrones
9. iron thrones
8. silver or other precious metal thrones
7. ludic thrones
6. sensible thrones, with maybe a cushion, but a pretty nice cushion since it has to go with the throne
5. excessive or otherwise gaudy thrones, such as thrones with Christmas lights draped over them all damn year round
4. toilet thrones (actually just toilets)
3. thrones that look toilet-y but are in fact just thrones
2. any throne more than 20% off at Pete’s Liquidation Throne World off highway #11 next to the RV lot, if you pass the U-Haul depot you haven’t gone too far, everybody gets to the U-Hauls and thinks they’ve gone too far but they haven’t, just keep going
1. the last five of Aaron Sorkin’s thrones (they were “too small” and “you call that a throne? That’s a glorified hassock!”)
Recently Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Worlds, a licensed e-book publishing platform for fan fiction. Licensed works include Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and the books of Kurt Vonnegut. In honour of Amazon’s magnanimous decistion to grant legitimacy to fanfic, here is my first stab at the genre.
Wings: A Vampire Diaries Fan Fiction
One morning in Mystic Falls, Damon Salvatore discovered that he had grown a pair of sizeable wings overnight.
“How about that,” he said, pouring himself his morning finger of scotch.
Damon flexed his left wing and then his right, watching them flap and quiver. Morning light shone pale and rosy through the taut flesh between the struts of his new limbs. He poured himself another finger of scotch, then started sipping from the bottle, just in case. It was one of those single-malt mornings at the Salvatore mansion.
He dialed Stefan’s cell number, assuming that his brother wouldn’t be home.
“Hey Stefan!” Damon asked. He flexed his wings in time, knocking the drinks tray over. “Damn it.”
“What do you want, brother? I’m driving aimlessly around Tennessee right now in search of something or other. Like a sword or an ancient tome or a witch, I don’t know.”
“I woke up with wings. And I drank all the Laphroaig.”
“Dick.” Stephan hung up.
“Hey Elena, come in here!”
Elena whooshed in at super vampire speed.
“Is everything okay? Is Silas back? Is Klaus back? Is Katherine back? Has someone new come to town? Holy shit am I bored.” Elena fell to the ground, suddenly uninterested in her legs.
“Bad news, babe,” Damon said, banging his head on the ceiling. “I’ve got wings now, and that’s way cooler than sleeping with you.”
“Come on, Damon. Let’s go solve the mystery of your ugly new wings.”
“I’m fine up here. I keep flying into the window though.”
“Okay,” Elena said. “I’m going to crawl over to Caroline’s place and we’ll do whippits and dance to some choice aughties midtempo pop.”
“Suit yourself,” smirked Damon, even though he was now completely tangled up in the chandelier.